Comann Eachdraidh Ionadail Phortrigh


Portree Local History Society

Chair: I. G. MacDonald

Secretary: Marilyn Clarke
Treasurer: Rita Campbell

Programme of Meetings: 2008 - 2009

  • October 14, 2008
    High Pasture Cave and developments at Fiskavaig
    Stephen Birch

  • November 11, 2008
    MacLean family of Raasay.
    Iona MacDonald
  • December 9, 2008
    NB VENUE: Dunvegan Castle
    - The Castle, The Clan, The Homecoming
  • January 13, 2009
    All Creatures Great and Small- 50 Years as a Vet on Skye.
    D.J. Maclennan
  • February 10, 2009
    UHI History Department.
    Dr Jim Hunter
  • March 10, 2009
    St Maolrubha & St Columba.
    Norman Newton
  • April 14, 2009
    Col. Jock Collection and Museum of Isles Collection.
    Maggie MacDonald

Programme of Meetings: 2007 - 2008

October 9 - Ian Suddaby - The Excavation at Home Farm
November 13 - Dr Jeff Stone - St Kilda: Two Decades of Digging and Scraping
(in association with Aberdeen University Centre for Lifelong Learning )
December 11 - Dr Martin MacGregor - The Lordship of the Isles
January 8 - Seonachan MacLeod - Deserted Villages of Skye
February 12 - Professor Brian Sykes - Vikings in the Blood?
March 11 - Murray MacDonald - Mobile Banking by Land and Sea in the Highlands and Islands
April 8 - AGM, with guest speaker - Ronnie Armstrong - Para Handy and the Clyde Puffers


Telford's Stein

MacLeod's Terrace

Before 1750, the place we know as Stein today was a very small settlement indeed, but, with a tutored eye, it is still possible to see among the clues that there was once a scheme to develop it as a planned settlement in similar form to the fishing villages of Tobermory and Ullapool.

In his fascinating talk to the Society in January 2007, Pat Myhill developed his picture of Stein from the disrupted and dislocated aftermath of the '45. The purpose of ventures like Stein was economic development through the creation of jobs. Pat presented the British Fisheries Society as the moving force, with public spirit rather than profit the guiding principle. Working for the BFS, Thomas Telford, engineer and designer, surveyed the area with Joseph Mitchell, and land at Stein and Lusta was bought from MacLeod.

The original plan is best described as "grandiose", with a crescent form that predated Abercrombie Terrace in Edinburgh. The detail of the provision that was made for the growth of the settlement underlines the scale of the plan: there were to be fountains, warehousing, custom houses, 2 piers, stores, all built on the rising to high ground away from the water front.

Existing pictures of the plans for MacLeod's Terrace show a classical formal approach which would have epitomised the peak of Georgian architecture.

Pat's talk traced the very poor progress that beset the project, beginning round about 1787, with the first 23 "settlers" arriving in 1798, and virtually grinding to a halt after 1798. One factor in this slowness was that, although the project was intended to encourage fishing, so generous were the allocations of land that the settlers found they could survive without setting to sea!

Loch Bay

One of many fascinating sidelights of the plans was the construction of Skye's first real road, from Kylerhea to Stein, by way of Dunvegan. This road arrived on Waternish, not by the Fairy Bridge, but across what is now the forestry land on the other side of the glen, fording the river somewhere near Bay.

The settlement at Stein and Loch Bay still shows signs of the "Grand Plan", even though the BFS sold out to MacDonald of Skeabost in 1837, having lost about 3000 on the project. Existing houses, including the Captain's House, West House and the Inn, all show traces of the original intentions, despite much development and modification over the years.

To complete his introduction to a unique piece of Island history, Pat explored the ownership of Captain's House, with its exotic associations with the tale of a Russian-Finnish sea captain who apparently put into Loch Bay for repairs and fell in love with a local girl. This, along with connections with the tale of Flora MacDonald, added to an intriguing tale of history at the human level.


Previous Meetings: 2006 - 2007

October 10 - Bill Cowie - Kirk Cave, Rona
November 14 - Alister Ross – Education – PHS100
December 12 - Norman Newton - Skye and Raasay
(in association with Aberdeen University Centre for Lifelong Learning )
January 9 - Pat Myhill - Telford’s Stein
February 13 - Fiona MacKenzie – Miri Mhr nan Orain -
A song-lecture
March 13 - Ian McCrorie - The MacBrayne Story
April 10 - AGM, with guest speaker - Roger Hutchinson - “Calum’s Road”

All meetings are held at Tigh na Sgire, Portree,
at 7. 30 p.m.,
on the second Tuesday of each month.

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Published by Stephen Clarke, on behalf of Portree Local History Society - January 2007.
Photographs, unless otherwise stated Dualchas 2006
The publisher and the Society publish this information in good faith, but cannot be held responsible for any errors or omissions.
Meeting dates and topics are subject to change.